Sunday, November 29, 2009


*It was crazy warm for the end of November here today. SUNSHINE.

*The kids' Thanksgiving craft was a favorite of mine from childhood that somehow I've missed doing with the girls. Crayon shavings ironed between layers of waxed paper. We spent the holiday with good friends in Maryland and I loved seeing the row of little girls shaving away at crayons. One had a proper sharpener, one a vegetable peeler, and one a butter knife to make their waxy curls and scraps. We set the timer for 3 minutes, and then they had to trade. It was good stuff. Lesson learned: it takes much less crayon than you might think. Thinner wax is lovelier & more translucent.

*I'm reading Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies: Thoughts on Faith and love it so. She's such a marvelous writer; I fell in love when I read Operating Instructions, pregnant, and this second book of hers has not disappointed. She has a wry, poignant way of sharing the truths about life that we both, in the intimacy of our author and reader friendship, recognize. It has made me very happy this weekend. Though of course the sunshine has helped and all of those other good things about my life.

*Like a very favorite family of ours coming home from a 9-month sabbatical in South Africa TODAY and showing up at our door a couple of days before we expected them. We were mad at them for leaving us, but now crushing all over again because they are marvelous and now forgiven. So much good squealing.

*Speaking of great evenings, please do come project this Thursday night again, if you're a local. The last Christmas Elves workshop was marvelous; everyone brought their own projects and we just sat around the table and talked and stitched or glued or wrapped or just talked. E-mail me if you're coming; you're welcome anytime for any part of 7:30-11:00.

*The Reu and I are hospital bound tomorrow morning (regular scheduled chemo) & will be back on Thursday morning. He is suddenly a walker and I'm not sure how we're going to survive this tethered-to-a-pole-in-the-little-room-for-3-days thing together. Together, I suppose :). We had a bit of a scare about enhancement on the MRI he had a couple of weeks ago, but last week's surgeon visit was encouraging. It looks like we're just seeing post-surgical healing & "normal" tissue regrowth--scar tissue & such, not tumor growth. So we're just blithely assuming all is well until we hold our breaths waiting for the results of the next one in a couple of weeks. Stupid cancer. Awesome little boy.

Have a great week.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Goates Family Project Fair

Last week, each member of our family received this in our e-mail inboxes. A challenge from our 11-year-old:

Welcome to the first ever Goates Family Project Fair!

Your goal is to create a project based on anything, as long as it goes under the theme. There will also be specific guidelines you must follow. Here is a list of all the information you will need to get started.

Theme: Dinosaurs
  • If your project is a poem, it must have a research page, an illustration, or a trivia, or be a booklet of poems.
  • Science projects must have a research page.
  • No project can be done together with two Goates, with the exception of Reuben.
  • Projects must take plenty of time and effort.
  • Name must be printed neatly on project;either in an inconspicuous place or in small print in a corner. Names may also be written in a small print byline.
  • December 20th- type of project
  • January 20th- topic
  • February20th- outline
  • March 20th- full project

If you reply to this e-mail, please make sure it is sent to each receiver of this message, not just to me.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them!

We're organizers, the Goates girls...

Hmmm...I'm currently thinking of a cloth book of dinosaur poetry. Haikus are usually my go-to format, but I'm quite the impromptu lyricist these days, so I might get more ambitious (read: crazier verse).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

filling my lamps

The (handcarved! with oak leaves and acorns!) mantle in our new cottage has two plugs on the wall up there, so the purchase of a new pair of lamps was definitely pending. Especially since there is no overhead lighting in our living room, and my light-loving self is getting rather weary of this dark, winter-pending dreariness. I had such lamp angst, which is not really surprising, since I always have decorator angst, but am tickled with my final decision.

A crafty decision. An acorn-crafty decision. How could it be wrong?

I've admired fillable glass lamps that have been popping up here and there. Like this nice Atrium Lamp from Pottery barn, which is extremely awesome. But both the size and price have been bigger than I had in mind.

Luckily for my mantle and dark living room, that baby had an appointment yesterday in Philadelphia* and we made the requisite stop at IKEA Conshohoken on the way home.
I (heart) IKEA maybe a little too much. But what's a girl to do when they keep on bringing such delights as this cheerful alpine fabric (the one I used for the backdrop in today's photos)--with goats, no less! Lots of great textile series there right now.

Back on topic: I picked up a pair of JONSBO EGBY lamps for $19.99 each. Larger glass bases in the same series are also available for $39.99 and $49.99. I like their proportions better, but they were way too big. This lamp, at 13", is just the right size for its allotted space.
Here's mine:

These lamps aren't designed to be fillable, but the situation is workable with a little creativity. The top doesn't screw off, like with fillable lamps, but the bottom is open, and the electrical gadgetry is well-enclosed, so I am not worried about increasing the fire risk.Step one: Fill 'er up. I chose (surprise!) acorns. I emptied the basket from my seasonal table, then had to go to the garage to borrow a bit from the 2007 harvest (2008 had very few acorns. Fascinating story).Step two: Cover that hole. I pulled a couple of metal discs from the recycling bin that were just the right size: the metal caps from juice concentrates. I love those things: no sharp edges, all perfect roundness. I used a few dabs of melted goo from my mini glue gun to attach it. Hot glue doesn't do a great job attaching very smooth things together, especially when you let it cool just a wee bit, which was exactly what I wanted: I can easily separate them when I fancy another fill, but for now it keeps my acorns in and their dust off my mantle. (Ay, excuse the photo. It was getting dark, and I was tripping over kids).Quite lovely, methinks.Suitable for a variety of collections. Like Littlest Pet Shops ;).After I stop giggling at myself, I think I'll replace the poor trapped animals (there was some disgruntlement from the girls) with red glass marbles. Very holiday. Plus the husband requested it. He thinks acorns are drab, but too bad for him.

A good glow to enjoy.(That mantle is cluttered with inspiration bits for the walls and such. This room is not done (oh, those bare walls!), but sometime before the next millenium I'll have a great finished mantle to show off to you...)

*last week's MRI showed dreaded enhancement, so we had to meet with our surgeon to discuss and maybe biopsy. This broke my heart, so I didn't even tell my mom, but the official-for-now thought on the glowing area is that it's just showing "normal" post-operative cell growth: healing after surgery. Huge sighs of relief here. MRIs every 4 weeks, so it's being watched very carefully, but there is no palpable mass, and it's in a place that should show if it grows (scapula).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas elves' workshop--Thursday!

Life is a bit week-by-week right now, but Thursday LOOKS GOOD and I'd love for you to join me for a little crafting action. Please, bring your own projects to work on and know I'll have tables and the depth of my crafting world of supplies to help you out. Sit and chat if you could just use that. I'll have hot cider & lots of handmade mugs. 7:30- 11:00 pm as you like.

Following the schedule I posted earlier, I'm going to start an Amish puzzleball for Reuben (The image above was one of many I found online, this from amy.gunson's flickr photostream; a good tutorial I found is here). I have some beautiful fabrics I want to use bits of and I think it will be great for him learning to catch. I also want to finish up a wee felt animal for Audrey that I started in the hospital last week (I finished Audrey's rainbow of birds), and if you don't have a project, but want one, I suggest a bit of felt handsewing. It's great for beginners. I have grand patterns for Christmas gift making, both my own and purchased, like this book
image from

or the entire handsewing for fun patterncard series
image from

Bring your own felt (Joann's wool blend felt is 30% off in a very rare sale), or use some of mine for $2 (I have a good hoard,but wool felt is $$ and mostly mailorder). Regular craft felt will work fine, but it's not as dense, so harder to work with in some ways. But moths won't eat it (this has happened to me), and it's cheap & widely available.

If you're coming, please let me know so I can plan accordingly:

Monday, November 16, 2009

begin again

I cannot say I've been entirely etsy inactive, because I still buy there, but my little shop has been empty and sad for lo, these many months...

But the Christmas shopping season is here, so I'm finally listing the rest of last spring's pottery efforts. Those lonely little mugs and bits have been packed away during the move, but have recently found a home on (the top, out-of-baby's-reach-shelves of) my new birch shelves, patiently waiting for me to find them new homes. Half of the kiln-load has wandered away as hostess or thanks for visting! or birthday gifts, but a nice little congregation of creatures is still with me, and I will be listing them a few at a time (as the extremely grabby baby--or when he sleeps--allows) over the next 2 weeks.

I'm not doing any custom work right now, but if you see something in the photos you are particularly interested in, convo me on etsy & I'll let you be first to know when I list it.

(more complete photos in the next post)


Something new: parade bowls. These are larger--about 6 1/2" rim-to-rim.
2 birdbaths: rimmed & eggshell
Sweet company mugs, for those who would prefer to go crazy with the spoon and not worry about their little buddies.
Sheep (this kiln got extra-hot and the sheep suffered most, so will list as seconds--the pink glaze is thin at top & the greens very thick at the bottom, so the sheep are standing in tall grass...).
Mice, flower hedgie & owl
Crocheted lace details--burned out in the firing. I experimented with different glazing techniques, and, in the end, liked best the ones I left raw on the outside, but I love them all and will do more.
And a miscellany of extras
I made many leaf-pressed mini bowls, but most of them went out already in baby gift sets. Two left:
Lots of good fairy bowls. Some will be sold in sets, some individually.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

every moment

In an effort to squeeze the creative juice out of every moment, Marian and I painted in the car during Audrey's guitar lesson. I cut and outlined, and Marian filled in. They match our invitations: we're having a wee party on Saturday, limiting our invites to those with Reuben friends--other homes with babies (and a couple of especially devoted Reuben followers). Some preparations must be made.There was also some snacking.(the view from the top; once I get around to it, R can now be a front-facing rider!)

And when Audrey finished, she helped us finish up.And then we went home.
To party!

birthday in the woods

Yesterday morning birthday boy and I escaped to a friend's little corner of the woods, where she is the steward of a farm on the weekends. She is the lovely sort of person whose house looks like this:

(spot one of my bowls? And the fired version of these wee pumpkins?)

We had honey blueberry muffins, lemon tea, wood trucks, and a nice fire inside, followed a quick walk out.
I infinitely preferred the morning to the afternoon. We took a little trip to Hershey to see one of Marian's specialists (her story; I really will force her to catch y'all up on all of her good news soon), and were caught in the cafeteria by a phone call from Reuben's oncologist. Seems we all had ourselves some tangled communication lines, and instead of being done, baby boy has 5 more rounds of chemotherapy. Which means we're only half done poisoning him. We'll start again next week, juggling 2 kids in the hospital (a minor surgery for Marian) at the front end of the week with an MRI and family escape to the Jersey shore at the end of the week. Maybe even a family photo session if I get me proverbial ducks in a row. And to think that I thought next week ("when everything slows down") would be the week I finally listed what I haven't given away (houseguests always get something) of the pottery I finished in my lonely little etsy shop (evidence that it was once active here).

Gird up loins.
Get on with it.

We attended (Nathan spoke at) the funeral of a good friend on Monday, the most eloquent of reminders that biology can be a fearsome foe. As much as I hate chemotherapy, I hate cancer more.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


He saw the light for the first time one year ago.
Can't believe we made it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

the wooden wagon

I fell in love with The Wooden Wagon, a lovely little online store primarily selling wooden toys and folk art, last year, and bought my favorite Christmas gifts from them.

I think this year it will just be Ostheimer wooden animals (fox, fawn, and baby bear*are my favorites right now, but Marian has requested a Clydesdale, and the brown horse above is kind of close?), but I was nonetheless happy to see this show up in my inbox today:

Free shipping on orders over $25 in November.
Coupon code: FRIENDS

Usually, shipping is a flat $4.95, so never prohibitive.
*Reuben's favored book is the Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? that Uncle D bought him when he visited last month.

What do you want?